News / Europe

Turkey to France: Block Genocide Bill, or Else

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament, Ankara, Oct. 11, 2011.
Dorian Jones

Ankara is continuing to ratchet up tensions with Paris over a proposed French law to criminalize denial of claims that Turkey's mass killings of Armenians before and during World War I constitute genocide.

Ankara, which rejects the charge of genocide and argues the widespread killings of its Armenian minority occurred during civil strife in which many Turks died as well, dispatched a high-level delegation of parliamentarians in a last-minute bid to lobby against the proposed law.

Historians say up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and several countries recognize the killings as genocide. Under the proposed French legislation, denying the genocide would be punishable by up to one year in prison along with a $58,000 fine.

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a stinging attack on France, saying that no historian or politician can see genocide in Turkish history, and that those who do want to see genocide should turn around and look at their own "dirty and bloody history."

Relations between Turkey and France are already tense in connection with French President Nicolas Sarkozy's strong opposition to Ankara's bid to join the European Union. Erdogan last week reportedly sent a letter to Sarkozy warning of dire consequences if the legislation passes.

Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet warns such threats should be taken seriously.

"I think it is serious, I think that the government will make a big issue out of this - [it] is not one that they can afford to let go by," he says. "In terms of public opinion, this is one of [the] most [touchy] of issues for Turks, and you cannot just take it lightly."

Opposition to the genocide claim is one of the few issues that unite Turkey's normally polarized main political parties.

The main opposition People's Republican Party is due to send its own deputies to Paris to lobby against the controversial legislation, and the leader of the National Action party, Devlet Bahceli, strongly backs Erdogan's tough stance against Paris.

With such cross-party support, the potential repercussions to French-Turkish relations are expected to be severe. Turkish officials have said their ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, will be recalled if the French parliament passes the legislation.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University warns that will be just the beginning.

"[They could] ban the French companies from all economic bidding," he says. "For the future, [they will] not give the French companies the light of day. And wherever they can block France, they will try to so."

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu summoned representatives of leading French companies to explain what is at stake for them. With Turkish exchange accounting for 2.5 percent of France's annual international trade, observers say such threats will have a limited effect. But the repercussions of a deepening dispute threaten to extend beyond France to the whole European Union.

"I think there is this negative potential, based on good information the Turkish foreign minister met with EU ambassadors and lashed out at them over this issue," says Idiz.

Foreign Minister Davutoglu has warned the European Union it has a responsibility to protect freedom of speech.

The ongoing crisis in Syria may also be affected. Despite strained relations, Paris and Ankara have found common ground in their opposition to Damascus' ongoing crackdown on dissent.

But the head of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Volkan Bozkir, warned in Paris that bilateral cooperation in the region would be significantly harmed if the legislation was passed.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid